Manoj Bhargava, 62-year-old NRI billionaire and philanthropist, on Friday, revealed the ‘Free Electric’– a hybrid bicycle which generates electricity. It is the main item constituting his clean and affordable energy project.
Priced between Rs 12,000 and Rs 15,000 per unit, the bicycle, which takes human mechanical energy and transforms it into electricity, can provide up to a full day’s worth of electricity with just an hour of peddling. As an affordable and clean energy producer, the device would be a welcome initiative in rural areas and other economically weak sections of the society.
“You won’t have to pay the electricity bill and the only side-effect is that you get fitter,” said Bhargava to Business Standard.
The device has a simple design and anyone with some basic tools can make repairs if necessary. Bhargava believes that the ‘Free Electric’ is set apart from alternatives such as solar cells due to its robustness. The device was designed and developed in the US, but will soon be produced in India by companies picked by Bhargava.
Bhargava aims to distribute the item all across India, though he didn’t share a timeline for this nationwide launch. For now, it is to be launched in Uttarakhand first. Bhargava has not approached the Indian government yet but any help from the authorities is welcomed.
‘Free Electric’ is lined up for distribution by March, 2016. Bhargava believes that once the benefits of the device are adjudged by the people, demands for it will grow by hundreds and thousands.
“There are approximately 1.3 billion people around the world who do not have access to electricity,” said Bhargava, commenting on the main reason behind his initiative.
“The ‘Free Electric’ hybrid stationary bicycle was conceived as a product to provide electricity to this population. I am confident that this innovation will have meaningful and permanent impact on millions of lives in India,” he added.
Living Essentials, Bhargava’s consumer products company achieved success in 2004 with the introduction of an energy drink, ‘5-Hour ENERGY’. He started the ‘Billions in Change’ initiative as a means to finance and commercialize technology based projects which would help combat poverty.
Bhargava’s team is working at ‘Stage 2 Innovations’, a US-based innovation lab, on inventions which aim to provide affordable and clean energy, portable water and health care. It was after two years of hard work at the lab that ‘Free Electric’ came up as a viable product.